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Friday, July 11, 2008

Saturday Morning Notes - July 12

- The Head Chef accompanied me to Belmont for just the last few races of the day on an absolutely perfect late Friday afternoon/early evening. A crowd of over 6,000 was on hand, and I'd guess that could be a record for the sunset racing cards.

Bob was there en route to Colonial Downs to see Rap Tale race in the stakes today. He had a late flight to Richmond, so what better way to kill some time. We went to the paddock before the 9th race, though Bob was improperly attired and appropriately banned. But I got to meet trainer Bruce Brown, who was saddling Slug, the favorite, who got slammed from 8-5 to 6-5 in the last minute. The owners, presumably the ones that came up with the sluggish moniker, were not there. So we were all set to pose as the owners in the winners circle after the race. Unfortunately, the horse finished 7th, leading to what seemed to this non-pick six expert to be a rather bizarre carryover. The odds on the winners in the sequence were 5-2, 8-5, 3-1, 6-1, 3-1 and 8-1. Nobody had that?

After the race, we went to Bruce Brown's barn, where we saw Rap Tale depart on her van ride to Colonial Downs. I'd written that she was leaving Thursday, but in fact she did not take off until around 8 PM last night. So she'll almost literally go straight from the van into the starting gate. Rap Tale is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. She's a big, long filly, whereas I'm told that many Tale of the Cats are more diminutive. She stands and walks the same way as she runs, with her long neck extended almost parallel to the ground. She's also a sweetie-pie; Bob told us how he gives her playful headlocks in her stall. Wonder if he gives her noogies as well.

The van passed right by us on its way out, and I wish I had a camera with me, as she looked quite pleased, sticking her head out like a dog in a car. You gotta figure that she sensed that something was up, as it's certainly not the routine to go out for an evening joyride. But she seemed not the least bit perturbed.

Nick Santagata will ride. If I was looking at this race as an outside impartial observer, I can't say that I'd come up with this filly. She's two races removed from running for 25K, and she ran 5th in her only grass try. So I can't say that I'm being objective in this case, but I'll certainly be backing her today. And I'm hoping that it will be on TVG so that I can actually watch.

- The second race was what I believe to be the first two-year old turf race of the season here. All first time starters, but around $800,000 was wagered on the race nonetheless. Horseplayers are a funny lot. So many races with so much information available, but yet we just can't resist.

Having said that, as is the case in many of these types of races, the result was a chalky one, with second choice Bittel Road besting even money Cairiene to produce an exacta payoff of $11.20. The winner was the 9th of the meet (from 57 starters) for Pletcher. Bittel Road is a $340K son of Stormy Atlantic, out of Sultry Sal, a full sister to stakes winning Top Notch Lady.

Another winner for Christophe Clement, who took the feature with Five Towns (and missed the third race by a neck with City Roar). This barn is winning at nearly 25% now, with 16 winners in 67 starts. Interesting to see Kenneth Ramsey claim the 5 yo gelding Metro Meteor for the optional 50K claiming tag.

Since I wrote on July 2 that trainer George Weaver is one to keep an eye on as the summer progresses, he was second by a half length with 10-1 My Man Lars on July 4, and he won with Solvent at 9-1 on Thursday. Weaver is getting a jump on Saratoga I guess. Today, he saddles Thou Swell, 15-1 morning line in the 8th. This $250K son of Aptitude ran a nice even 5th in his debut, on the grass, at Gulfstream in April, and now cuts back in distance after fading badly here at a mile and a quarter. That Gulfstream race was a good one which produced two winners, as well as Solitaire, third in the Queen's Plate after missing in the Trial by a neck. And the Belmont race is a bit of a key race itself, having produced two winners and three seconds. Calvin Borel, in town to ride Grand Couturier in the Man O'War, picks up the ride.

Sorry I didn't have time this week to get into some of the ample stakes races on tap today.....but best of luck and have a great day.


Anonymous said...

Nick Santagata is riding sweetie pie, you gotta be kidding me. Yea your right Alan this ride is a joy ride and thats about it.

Anonymous said...

oh my Alan Rap Tale hopped at the start. Whats your lame duck excuse now. Was it the horse. was it the jock, was it the long trip for sweetie pie, or was it that the horse didn't belong in the race in the first place.